Bucs, Etoile ready for Soweto battle

Bucs, Etoile ready for Soweto battle
Issa Sarr of Orlando Pirates celebrates goal with Kermit Erasmus of Orlando Pirates during the 2015/16 Absa Premiership football match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa on 31 October 2015 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

by BackPageTXT

Thursday Nov 19, 2015. 13:17

South Africa’s Orlando Pirates and Tunisian club Etoile du Sahel will meet for the first leg of the 2015 CAF Confederation Cup final at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday evening, kick-off at 20h00 CAT.

Pirates, the only Southern African side to win the CAF Champions League (known as the African Cup of Champions when they won it in 1995), are playing in their second continental final in the space of three seasons, having been beaten by Al Ahly in the 2013 Champions League final.

The Buccaneers put that defeat to bed by overcoming the Cairo giants 5-3 on aggregate in the semifinals of this year’s Confed Cup, with their 4-3 win in Suez last month serving as proof that they have what it takes to beat the best on the continent – even away from home.

Etoile, meanwhile, showed their potency by crushing Zamalek 5-1 in the first leg of their semifinal, though they lost the away leg 3-0, suggesting they are vulnerable on the road.

The Tunisians have a greater pedigree in African club competition, having won the Champions League once (2007), the Confed Cup once (2006), and the now defunct African Cup Winners’ Cup (1997 & 2003) and CAF Cup (1995 & 1999) competitions twice each.

Bucs striker Thamsanqa Gabuza, who has played a key role in his team’s run to the Confederation Cup final and has also impressed recently at international level with Bafana Bafana, says Pirates are eager to claim a win at home in the first leg this weekend.

“This is a big game for us,” Gabuza told his club’s official website. “We are all ready for this game against Etoile du Sahel. There isn’t much we know about them but the fact that they have reached this stage of the competition means that we will have to be at our best if we want to win this competition.

“On a personal level, I am prepared to do whatever I can to help the team win on the day. If I score it will be great but the most important thing for me and the team is to ensure that we register a win against Etoile du Sahel.”

Etoile come into the match with their manager Faouzi Benzarti being linked with a move away from the club, while Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah will be looking to become the competition’s top scorer by netting in the final. He is currently tied with CF Mounana’s Georges Ambourouet on six goals. Pirates’ Gabuza and Kermit Erasmus have five apiece.

Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe will take charge of the match in Soweto this weekend. The return leg will be held at the Olympic Stadium in Sousse on 29 November.

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